Get an Asus ZenBook UX303 ultraportable touchscreen laptop for $749.99
This slim, lightweight Core i7 powerhouse sells new for hundreds more. Plus: a killer deal on a killer first-person shooter about, duh, killing.
Rick BroidaSenior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
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What are you looking for in your next laptop? Slim, lightweight design? Touchscreen? Fast processor? Lots of RAM and storage?
The Asus ZenBook UX303UB ticks all those boxes and then some. It hit the market about a year ago, with the top-level SKU priced at $1,299.
Today, and for a limited time, Techrabbit has the refurbished Asus ZenBook UX303UB for $749.99 shipped when you apply promo code CNETZ150 at checkout. I've seen lesser configurations priced at $900 and higher.
This is a no-compromise notebook. Just to get it out of the way, I'll tell you the one thing it doesn't have: USB-C ports. Instead, you get three USB 3.0 ports. Sufficient? Read on.
Like I said, this is the loaded model. Specs include a sixth-gen Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM and a 512GB solid-state drive. (I no longer have the patience for plodding mechanical drives, but usually you have to settle for 256GB if you go SSD. Not here.)
The 13.3-inch touchscreen delivers a dazzling QHD+ resolution (3,200 x 1,800), powered by a discrete Nvidia GT940M graphics card. Between that and the processor, you can not only run video-editing software on this system, you can play visually demanding games as well.
As you may recall, my current driver is also an Asus ZenBook -- the year-before-last-year's model, if you will. I like it a lot save for a couple things: The keyboard isn't backlit and the power button is positioned in the worst possible place. (Here's a fix for that, but to be honest it wasn't difficult to train my fingers to steer clear of it. It's exceedingly rare I hit it by accident.)
The UX303 does have a backlit keyboard, which I've decided is just plain indispensable. But the power button...sigh, same dumb design.
Also, the overall system is a little heavy for an ultraportable: 3.4 pounds.
Even so, this is really compelling at this price. My only misgiving is regarding the battery: Because this is a refurb, there's no way to know just how much runtime it's already had. And because this is an ultraportable, there's no easy way to replace the battery if you don't get the expected 7-8 hours.
In return for that bit of uncertainty, you get an absolute powerhouse priced a full $550 less than it was new.
Bonus deal: Game time! The rebooted Doom earned rave reviews last year, but you were smart enough not to plunk down $60 for it. Good move: For a limited time, Cdkeys has Doom (Win) for just $12.79. That'll net you a key for redemption on Steam -- where, incidentally, the game still sells for $59.99. Like its predecessors, this first-person shooter is all about chasing demons into the depths of Hell. (Question: When you kill a demon in Hell, where does it go?)